Recipe: Kalua Pig

My husband had a friend in college from Oahu and he used to prepare and share this slow roasted pork.  I always assumed it was difficult to make.  The traditional luau preparation involves digging a whole in the ground, tracking down a whole pig and various tropical botanicals.  Turns out we Minnesotans can make Kalua Pork with the flavor of the island in our slow cookers!

The only downfall of preparing this dish was the ever present smell of the slow cooking pork.  I cooked it overnight and by morning the smell had taken over the house.  Some would be happy with that side effect.  My husband woke up, walked right into the kitchen, lifted the lid off of the Crockpot, ripped a hunk of pork off of the roast, ingested it and repeated.

Here's how you do it.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 hours
Serves 12-15 (about 2 slider size sandwiches a piece)

1   6 pound pork butt roast, AKA pork shoulder
2   Tablespoons of Hawaiian sea salt
2   Tablespoons of liquid smoke

1. Stab the roast all over with a fork.
2. Rub the roast with salt, then liquid smoke.
3. Put the roast into your Crockpot on low heat, note the time.
4. Flip the roast half way through the cooking time.
5. Once the time is up, pull the roast from the Crockpot and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
6. Shred and remove any large sections of fat.
7. Strain the juice, allow it to settle and then skim the fat from the top.
8. Add shredded pork and juice back to the Crockpot and reheat when you're ready to serve.

Note: You can do this same thing in the oven.  Just put the roast in a roasting pan, there will be lots of juice.  Set your oven temp to 250º and let it go for 6-8 hours. Beware of turning up the heat.  The meat can get dry.  If you'd like to speed up the cooking time I wouldn't recommend going higher than 325º.  The meat is ready to shred when you can pull it apart easily with a fork.

Note: Each kind of Hawaiian sea salt gives the meat a different savory undertone.  I used clay salt because I like the mild flavor. I do not recommend substituting table or kosher salt you may already have on hand; it's just too strong for this dish.

Serving Suggestion: I use King's Hawaiian buns and make sliders.  The deliciously sweet bread is the perfect foil for the salty meat.  You could also prepare some easy coleslaw and serve these 'Memphis style'.


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